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Local Musicians Take Cover

Taking a successful step in the music business requires plenty of talent, but also a measure of luck. And for a trio of local musicians, a recent one-off performance sparked a whirlwind of attention and video clicks.

Carolyn Miller of Massapequa, Mikel James of Farmingdale and David Wong of Huntington Station were on separate musical paths before convening to record a cover of “Say Something,” a song originally released by A Great Big World and then re-released featuring Christina Aguilera.

After recording the song and a video clip, the trio’s effort was featured on the Huffington Post website, catapulting it to close to 30,000 YouTube views in a matter of days.

“I heard the song on the radio and thought it would be cool to do a cover,” said Miller, a Massapequan who knows James and Wong through mutual friends. “They [James and Wong] had never met before, but they were totally down to do it. And while jamming it out one day we realized we really had something special.”

The musicians recorded a crystal-clear version of the song to make it downloadable on iTunes and the response has floored all three of them. Crediting both talent and sheer luck, Miller said the success of the track might lead to more collaborations between the trio.

“People went crazy for the song. It is such a hot and relatable song that I guess it just speaks to people,” she said. “We weren’t expecting the response, it is really a huge honor. But there has to be luck involved in something like this. If it didn’t get picked up by Huffington Post, it would have been just three kids jamming in a living room.”

This certainly was not Miller’s first foray into the performance arena. Her fascination with the arts began at an early age while sitting in the audience of a Broadway theater. From there she performed in local Long Island theaters, in national commercials, recorded voiceovers and booked television and film roles. She honed her craft in college on a scholarship at the prestigious Boston Conservatory, where she was featured in many main stage productions.

Miller continues to spread her talents in theater, film/tv and music. But counting Barbra Streisand and Broadway star Idina Menzel as her heroes, it is no secret where her performance love lies.“My first love is theater, but you look at someone like Barbra Streisand and she is someone who has transitioned into every field. That is a career to emulate,” she said, adding that belief in one’s talents is of the utmost importance no matter where the performer lands. “Of course you have to believe in yourself, but also this career is for those who eat and breathe it. It requires so much time and dedication. You have to literally put everything you’ve got into it.”

Her collaborators are also no strangers to hard work and dedication, but Farmingdale’s Mikel James began his musical journey as a way to get out of writing a report. His teacher gave him the option to instead write songs about various subjects, from the Constitution to health topics. And from there, a career was born.

“Writing songs about school subjects was cheesy, but it got me through high school,” said James, who also performs in the three-piece group, Young Atlas. “I just kept doing it and eventually I started writing my own lyrics and stuff. To do what you love for a job and make it into your field, that is the best feeling you can have.”

For his part in the “Say Something” collaboration, James sings and plays guitar. He said the recording’s success came as a shock to the system.

“This thing just blew up. Suddenly people I don’t even know are sharing it,” he said, adding that the success has made all three artists feel that much better about their talents. “It really makes you feel like you should be up there with the best.”

But aside from Miller’s piano, James’ guitar and both of their vocals, the song also features the deeply nuanced work of violinist David Wong. Miller said the violin adds a lot of emotion to the song, something that Wong said he was able to contribute without taking away from the lead vocalists.

“The biggest thing with violin is to not try to do too much and make sure to leave room for the vocals,” said Wong. “It takes discipline and listening to realize when you should come forward and when you should hold back.”

What started as a one-off performance might soon morph into other collaborations, as the three musicians are kicking around of hosting a cabaret-style performance featuring the “Say Something” performance, their solo work and many other possibilities.

“We’re totally down for working together again,” said Miller. “What shape that performance will take is still up in the air.”

For more information on Miller, Wong and James, check out the artists’ websites at www.carolyn-miller.com, www.mikeljamesmusic.com and www.davidwongviolin.com.

News

Two hundred business students from high schools across Nassau County, including Massapequa High School, competed for scholarships and cash awards—more than $33,000 in all—from various sponsors at Nassau County’s annual Comptroller’s Entrepreneurial Challenge.

The events on Sept. 11, 2001 had a profound effect on nearly all in the tri-state area, but for first responders, the effects were overwhelming. Long-time Massapequa resident Michael Smith, a member of the New York Fire Department, experienced those effects firsthand.

“While I’ve always been a person that could appreciate life, after 9/11 I became so distraught,” he said. “I realized I need to do something I want to do — something I love to do.”

A 30-year veteran of the fire department, Smith retired in 2002. He and his wife of 33 years, Teresa, began to look for a place they could enjoy life. This mindset brought them to the East End of Long Island, where they often went for day trips. They settled down in a home in Orient Point in 2004; in a home that needed quite a bit of work. And when it was time to landscape the property, a new idea took root — a vineyard.


Sports

Massapequa athletes recently received honors from their coaches at Kellenberg Memorial High School.

Each season, the coaches of all of the Kellenberg teams choose one member of their team who stands out as an athlete that has worked hard to improve themselves in their chosen sport.

The Farmingdale State women’s lacrosse team won the first game of their Spring Break trip to North Carolina with a victory over Greensboro College. In wet and muddy conditions, the Rams (8-1) held an 8-5 lead at the half and took the eventual 13-10 win.

In the first half and tied 2-2, the Pride (7-5) pulled ahead 4-2 with two unassisted goals by junior attack Nadya Fedun. Farmingdale State answered with four straight scores for a 6-4 advantage, on goals by juniors Alyssa Handel, Nicole Marzocca and Massapequan Jackie Kennedy.

Sophomore attack Ashlynn Parks put Greensboro within a goal at the 7:03 mark, but the Rams scored two more to lead 8-5 at the halftime break.

Calendar

YES Fundraiser

Saturday, April 26

Massapequa Memories

Tuesday, April 29

Spring Fashion Show

Wednesday, April 30



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
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